Apollo 11 Flotation Bag


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Human Spaceflight exhibition at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

When an Apollo command module landed in the ocean, it could settle into one of two stable positions: nose up or nose down. Landing nose down left its recovery antennas underwater and increased the possibility that the spacecraft might fill with sea water. To turn the command module upright, three inflatable bags were installed in the Command Module's forward (nose) compartment. Astronauts could right the spacecraft by activating air compressors in the aft (blunt) end of the spacecraft. The compressors were connected to the bags with tubing.

This is one of three flotation bags used on Apollo 11 at the end of its historic lunar landing mission on July 24, 1969. The astronauts deployed it after the command module settled nose down, enabling the spacecraft to right itself about six and half minutes after splashdown.

This object was transferred from NASA to the Smithsonian in 1973.

Collection Item Long Description:

Inventory Number


Credit Line

Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, through Rockwell International.

Country of Origin

United States of America


Rubberized fabric


Overall: 3 ft. 8 in. diameter (111.76cm)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


SPACECRAFT-Manned-Parts & Structural Components